As a child I viewed tornadoes as magical tunnels of wind that will carry one off to a far-away place with tiny people, a singing lion and a metal man with a shiny, silvery face as I have seen in the movie Wizard of Oz. In the movie Twister tornadoes were treated as sport-slash-experiment where men ran after these tunnel of winds all over the country side. Things were destroyed, but everybody lived nonetheless.
Twelve years ago I moved to the south and learned that tornadoes were as common as grits and country ham. They were not confined to Kansas with Dorothy and Toto. The weather forecast became as important as the headline news in my living room every six o’clock.
Along with the grits and country ham the south is also famous for it’s hot, balmy summers preceeded by springs laden with pollen that zooms through in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately with the heat come tornadoes. As the cooler air from God knows where – we always blame Canada – collide with the hot gulf air a great fiesta in the heavens ensue. The sky turn a depressing shade of purple. Thick dark clouds form and roll. Then comes the pelting rain, hale, lightning, thunder and……tornadoes. Like a well practiced drill my children know that when the sirens blare we run for the closet, cover our heads and don’t come out until the sirens fall silent. No one talks as every ear fervently listen to the sounds from outside. Hoping against hope there will be no touchdowns. Your heart pumps a steady rhythm and slowly accelerates that each beat hammers in your throat. Your mind runs a marathon of innumerable what if’s. Rain falls in great torrents. The wind whips, you hear loud cracks, thunder booms in succession and you wonder when it will ever end. Each minute feels as if multiplied ten folds. The destruction these monters leave is indescribable in magnitude.
Tornadoes kill. Not just lives. It kill’s dreams…it’s devastating, almost debilitating. But with disaster comes hope. Time and time again I have seen communities come together and lend the biggest helping hand one could ever imagine. Good souls come out of the woodwork offering consolation in every way, form and fashion. The river of compassion abounds it’s as overwhelming as the storm itself. Then the unnerving task of rebuilding comes…not just of homes but of lives as well.
Yesterday, as I was driving home on the interstate the skies took on an all too familiar purple shade. The wind was blowing strong I took extra effort to keep my van straight. As soon as I got home I turned on the television. We’re in for a bad thunderstorm….no tornadoes this time…the air had been cool all day. Nature won’t be having its fiesta. Looks like we’ll be fine this time around.